Standing up for creativity in rural communities

Rural communities face social, geographic and economic challenges that mean people have limited access to professional arts. Pioneering the way forward and setting about to make the arts accessible to all, rural arts charity Settle Stories in the Yorkshire Dales has announced exciting plans. This summer they will run an accessible Summer School and an Arts Freedom Pass for 16-25 year olds.

In rural areas, deprivation is less visible and income and opportunity is reduced. There are often higher levels of fuel poverty, poor access to public transport coupled with distances to urban centres and places of work. Access to local services is far more difficult. In most rural areas there is deprivation caused by a lack of access to services. This of course applies to the arts, especially if there are more practical priorities to consider, the arts often fall to the wayside.

Taking part in the arts gives us a sense of purpose and belonging that roots us. This supports good mental health and wellbeing. It makes us happy. This is critical for all. Established in 2010, Settle Stories works to produce high quality arts in their rural community. The charity has thrived and grown and has a core following with adult audiences. Work is now underway to ensure that the work is accessible to younger audiences. The future attendees of the arts.

Sita Brand, Director of the organisation explains why this is so important:

‘Everybody should have access to great arts. We are particularly interested in engaging families and young people, showing them the power and joy of the arts. Research proves that access to culture in earlier years results in arts participation in adult life. It is critical to engage younger audiences. The question was, how do we achieve this?’

The charity has now launched their Arts Freedom Pass, giving 16-25 year olds access to public performances for just £1. In addition they are running a Creative Summer School for children 8+ over 10 days in July. At just £75 a week, this is highly affordable and days are facilitated by leading artists from a range of creative backgrounds. Furthermore Settle Stories are working closely with the Children & Families Service with their local authority to offer free places to families on lower incomes.

Find out more about Settle Stories work with young people. Visit